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WHO Executive Board makes recommendation on Mental Health to 65th World Health Assembly

09-02-2012
A young girl smiling and writing in a classroom in Peru. She has a learning disability. There is another girl next to her and a teacher behind them.
© CBM/Telemans
Samata (left) has a learning disability and impaired vision, and enthusiastically attends CBM partner programme Nuestra Senora del Carmen School in Peru. CBM and partners work to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities worldwide, and raising awareness of mental health issues in global bodies like the the UN is a large part of this challenge.

In 2011, the importance of mental health problems as a global health issue was highlighted at a UN High Level Summit. CBM was very involved with the joint advocacy leading up to this milestone, and looks forward to participating in the long term development of the WHO's mhGAP programme.

Global health issue

2011 was a significant one for global mental health, because the importance of mental health problems as a global health issue was highlighted at the UN High Level Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases held in September.

Although the final resolution only contained reference to mental health in a relatively minor way, it was the first time that the mental health community were able to advocate effectively together at a global level through such a protracted process leading up to a summit (see blog report from CBM co-worker Dr Julian Eaton at the 2011 UN Civil Society Hearing on Non-Communicable Diseases, New York ).

CBM was very involved with the joint advocacy, including through our partners, and within joint campaigns like the Movement for Global Mental Health and the Great Push for Mental Health.

Future - building on the WHO mhGAP programme

Following this exercise, there was a clear consensus that in order to end the marginalisation of mental health, a high level forum was needed; similar to that held for HIV Aids and Non-Communicable Diseases, but focused on mental health.

In the UN system, the procedure is to start with a resolution within the relevant agency, in this case the WHO’s 65th World Health Assembly. CBM wishes to join others in congratulating the WHO Executive Board and the mental health team for recommending that the World Health Assembly adopts a resolution to this end.

The details of the recommendations, called ‘Global burden of mental disorders and the need for a comprehensive, coordinated response from health and social sectors at the country level’ can be found here:
It makes ambitious suggestions for taking global mental health activities forward in the long-term by building on the WHOs Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) programme. CBM is excited to be participating in this process.

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A welcome move

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